• Chishimba Bwalya

Regular COVID-19 screening begins for athletes


ZAMBIA's Olympic Games-bound athletes have begun undergoing regular Coronavirus screening in a bid to curb any chances of catching the disease before they travel to Japan next month.


28 players from the women's football team, two runners from athletics, and three boxers were tested on Tuesday afternoon at National Heroes Stadium alongside coaches.


This is the first screening of what will be a regular process conducted by the medical team as revealed by Dr Titus Fernando, who is the country’s COVID-19 Liaison Officer (CLO) for the games.


"At least every two weeks we will be testing the athletes while they are in camp," he said.


"It’s a mandatory testing because we are living in the era where Coronavirus is real and they (organisers) are trying all their best to make sure that we have these games and there are certain regulations that have been put in place, so we have to oblige" he further explained.


With athletes expected to leave for Japan on July 7 for camping in Asahi before heading to the Games Village on July 19, National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) has intensified final preparations to ensure they are not inconvenienced.


"As NOCZ we want to play our part to ensure that not only our athletes are protected but also those people they will interact with from time to time. And so part of the process is to ensure that we monitor the athletes through the medical team on a day to day basis and do frequent testing to support curbing the spread of the virus," NOCZ Secretary General Boniface Kambikambi said on the sidelines of the screening.


As part of curbing measures, the institution also facilitated the initial vaccine of the Coronavirus dose in April with the second one expected before the athletes leave for Japan.


Mr Kambikambi also revealed that measures could be put in place to monitor the athletes’ movements ahead of their departure.


"We are also going to track the movements of the athletes so that we discourage them to go into other public places while they are in this period of preparations."


"The issue with COVID-19 is that when one tests positive everyone gets affected in the bubble and so it's our intention that continue sensitising the athletes so that they stay safe.

THE rest of the athletes filling in forms before being tested. PICTURE: NOCZ Media

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